“Six Characters in Search of an Author” now playing through July 22 at Archway Theatre in the NoHo Arts District.
Written by Luigi Pirandello
Directed by Steven Sabel
“Six Characters in Search of an Author” is an absurdist play about the relationships between the theatre, the players, the characters they hope to give life to and the stories they will tell. It’s also a biting allegory to the ego of the actor and the world of theatre in general – the self-importance of the artist who longs for the purity of truth.
The Nobel Prize-winning writer Luigi Pirandello was a bit of a conundrum.
From a wealthy family, he chose his life of art, rejecting his family business and marrying his cousin. He wrote novels, poems and short stories, but it is his plays that brought him his greatest success. His ability to magically turn psychological analysis into riveting theatre has continued to bring him the kind of loyalty and love that few writers enjoy.
So for The Archway Theater to produce one of his most loved plays is a big risk, given how relatively unknown he is here, certainly, amongst most theatre goes, including this one. But it is precisely these “risks” The Archway Theatre Company seems compelled to make that set it apart from most in L.A. and, to me at least, what makes them so very special.
The story is set in a theatre, on the first day of rehearsal of a new play. As the players primp and congratulate each other a group of six people silently enter the theater. They are strangers to the group and the director accosts them immediately, trying to turn them out so they can all return to their rehearsal. The leader of the strangers, the father, begins to tell the story of their lives, informing the director that he is need of someone to help him dramatize the tale. As he lays it out before him the director is both intrigued and flattered, and agrees to a rough run through of the play with his reluctant actors immediately. And so the drama unfolds.
It’s a beguiling play, full of half truths and hidden meanings.
The actors are obtuse and vain, the director pompous and self-important, but the characters, these odd and unfinished six, are fiercely human and brutally real, much more real than those who supposedly, actually are. It twists and turns, offering strange glimpses into the workings of theater, the yearns of each actor and their jealous manipulations. All the while the actors and director are so caught up in the prospect of something new with which to advance their own careers that they ignore the mythical proportions of the characters’ story, until the grotesque conclusion. It’s very profound stuff.
I loved it. “Six Characters in Search of an Author” is odd and surreal and more than slightly off balance, but it’s absolutely fascinating.
The actors at Archway never cease to amaze me with their willingness to take risks and really construct a new identity for themselves with each production.
Everyone fully embraces the strange here. No apologies for taking the opportunity to discover why they all act, for what purpose and for what gain. This is a theatre company looking long and hard in the mirror and all the while knowing that it might not like what looks back at them.
Every performance was brilliant, even the silent once…or especially perhaps. It’s a dark and demented tale, one which doesn’t unfold according to the “correct” constructs of dramatic prose but instead it sneaks up on you a little more than that. Like a killer would.
Go and see this play, and when you do, don’t expect something neat and nice and polite. It’s none of those things. These six characters have a rude instance on the truth, which is what keeps them alive and compels them to this particular time and place. All we have to do is watch the layers fall away and be prepared for the uncomfortable and the dark.
I highly recommend “Six Characters in search of an Author” at The Archway Theatre. It certainly makes you think deeply, that’s for sure.
10509 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, 91601
June 24- July 22, Fridays and Saturdays at PM, Sundays at 2PM
Sommer Branham, Carol Vandegrift, Thomas Velasquez, Sylvia Walker, James J. Cox, Bill Bingham, Melissa Virgo, Angela Dobson Robbins, Jessica Barrett Denison, Bree Wernicke, Benjamin Cramer, Masi Hasher.
Stage Manager -Sommer Branham
Asst Stage Manager – Sylvia Walker
Production Consultant – Adam Neubauer
Production Assistant – Thomas Velasquez
Costumes – Mel Virgo & Jessica Barrett Denison
House Manager – Annie Freeman